What do you think of when someone says ‘Georgia’, perhaps the song “Georgia on My Mind”, or maybe Georgia ‘peaches’; what about peanuts or pecans, after all Georgia is the largest producer of peaches, pecans and peanuts in the United States. Those of you who like to hit the little white ball down the fairway probably think of ‘The Masters’ Golf Tournament when I say Georgia. Those who have QuickBooks on their mind probably think of Georgia as home to ‘Woodard World’ (otherwise known as the business ventures of Joe Woodard).
But for me the first thing that comes to mind when someone says Georgia is ‘the Real Thing’, Coca-Cola, which was invented in Atlanta in 1886. I mean, where would the world be without Coke.
As it happens, Georgia is the largest state east of the Mississippi River, and ranks 24th in area among all U.S. States at 59,425 square miles. There are more than 10.1-million residents in Georgia each of them paying between 4-cents and 8-cents on the dollar in State and local Sales Taxes.
From a historical perspective the Province of Georgia was established as the last of the thirteen original colonies in 1732 and was named for then King George II of Great Britain. Saint Mary’s is the second oldest city in the United States. On January 2, 1788 Georgia became the 4th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
In 1829 gold was discovered in the mountains of North Georgia, and white settlers began rushing into the state to stake claims to land and potential gold wealth. As the number of whites grew, and land occupied by the native population became more valuable, President Andrew Jackson signed in 1830 the Indian Removal Act that forced Native Americans from eastern states, including all of Georgia, onto tribal reservations in Oklahoma. This forced relocation is known as the Trail of Tears because of the large number of Cherokees who died along the way.
Plantation life grew among the white elite of Georgia, the agro-economy multiplied under the cultivation of owners who relied upon their slaves for every aspect of crop production. Southern aristocrats resisted every attempt to change their way of life, a way of life best described in 1936 by Margaret Mitchell as, "There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South...Here in the pretty world Gallantry took its last bow. Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of master and of Slave. Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered. A Civilization 'gone with the wind'...".1
Georgia was one of the original seven Confederate states having declared secession from the Union on January 19, 1861. During the Civil War several major battles became the sites of permanent historical landmarks of ‘one nation against itself’, these include the Chickamauga and Kennesaw Mountain battlefields. Of course most noted was William Tecumseh Sherman’s march to the Sea in 1864 which led to the burning of Atlanta. At the end of the Civil War, Georgia was the last of the confederate states to be restored to the Union on July 15, 1870.
So you thought Kentucky had some importance to fried chicken (aka: Kentucky Fried Chicken), well as it happens Gainesville, Georgia is actually considered to be the Chicken Capital of the World. Every year the state hosts the International Poultry Trade Show, the largest poultry convention in the world. I bet there is more than a few ‘clucks’ around there. Did I mention that Chick-Fil-A is based in Georgia? (Sorry Kentucky!)
In 1976, a Georgia Peanut farmer by the name of James Early ‘Jimmy’ Carter, Jr. was elected as the 39th President of the United States. He remains one of ‘the five living’ Presidents at the time of this writing, but was recently diagnosed with advanced liver cancer. Insightful Accountant extends our best regards for his speedy recovery.
Did you know that the sculptures of Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee at Stone Mountain is the largest sculpture in the world? And by the way, Berry College in Rome, Georgia is the largest college campus in the world. Wesleyan College in Macon, GA (hometown of Insightful Accountant's Publisher Gary DeHart) was the first college in the world chartered to grant degrees to women.
With all of the history, recreation, geographic diversity, and firsts, Georgia is a prime tourist destination. Some key destinations are Stone Mountain, the 'World of Coke', President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Little White House at Warm Springs, President Carter's Center, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site and the Ebenezer Baptist Church, and the Savannah Historic District. Speaking of Savannah, be sure to visit 'Mercer House', the home of Jim Williams told in the story 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil' (one of my all time favorite mysteries.)
About Sales Taxes and this series:
Thanks to Avalara, the 'tax people', this article is one in a 50 part series covering sales tax issues associated with each and every state tax jurisdiction in the United States. We’re publishing "Sales Tax Tuesday" every week through 2015.
Sales tax provides critical revenue for states. Other than property and income tax, sales tax is the largest source of tax revenue in the majority of the 46 states that collect it. From a government perspective, making sure every sales tax dollar is collected, through audits, fines, penalties rates and rules, is an exercise for income. It’s easy to be lured into a false sense of compliance when it comes to sales tax, this series is intended to insure that you are aware of the key sales tax facts for YOUR state.
Sales Tax Facts
- Georgia’s state sales tax rate is 4%, but can be as high as 8% depending on local municipality rates.
- There is no sales tax on prescription drugs, certain medical devices, or food items for home consumption.
- Georgia has two sales tax holidays: one in August for Back to School supplies and one in October for energy efficiency products.
- All taxes are collected by the Georgia Department of Revenue and then properly distributed according to any agreements that each county has with its cities.
- Georgia is a destination sourcing state. This means that sales tax is based on the location of the buyer.
- Georgia is a member of Streamlined Sales Tax (SST)
- Georgia raised taxes on gas for the first time in 44 years in July 2015. The increase is part of a bill passed earlier in the year to raise $900 million annually for state transportation improvements. Under the new law, Georgia's 7.5 cent excise tax and 4 percent sales tax will be replaced with a flat 26 cent excise tax resulting in an increase of 6 or 7 cents per gallon, on average. Because this is an excise tax, it's paid at the wholesale level versus by the consumer.
Did You Know?
Southern Hospitality. Planning a visit to Georgia? You may want to stay a spell. Beginning in July, guests of the Peach State will have to pay a $5 hotel-motel fee for each night a room is rented. But extend your stay for more than a month (31+ days) and the fee is waived for the first 30 days. Complimentary stays are exempt from paying the $5-per-night fee, but not when you pay for part of your stay (for example, buy 2 get one free). In that case, you’ll pay the fee for all nights, even the comped ones.
No Two-Fers. In you’re out and about in Athens (home of the Universty of Georgia Bulldogs) and want to treat your buddy to a frosty cold one, you’ll have to pay full price for it. It’s illegal in Clarke County for bars or other businesses to sell two beers at once for a single price. (What about a six-pack?)
Manual sales and use taxes are prone to error and can consumes hours of your time in collection, accounting and reporting for what is pass-through rather than revenue-generating activities. Avalara provides solutions for sales tax automation, including tax calculation, exemption certificate management, returns processing and 1099 filing and reporting. Automation via Avalara allows businesses to be fully sales tax compliant without sacrificing productivity.
1 - Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, 1936, Macmillan Publishers.